Living The Part Of A Good Manager
September 26, 2010
日本キリスト教団 頌栄教会牧師 清弘剛生 Pastor Takao Kiyohiro, Shoei Church, Church of Christ, Japan
Translator M.A.F., Indiana, USA
Proving Oneself Worthy Of Trust
1. "One person [has] five talents, the other two talents, and another one talent." In a sense this is easy to understand. We are certainly different in the various things we've been given. I'd say we have a good sense for this on a daily basis. [The Greek word] "talanton, [talanton] " which is found in the scriptures comes out in English as "talent." "Talent" [comes across as] "ability." The talents which we are each given vary greatly. Some people seem to be those with five talents, while others seem to be those with one talent. We get all anxious about that. Of course, what is being given is not just "talents." The environments we're given, and the circumstances we're born with are different. Generally, we can even say that the lives we're given are different. It's true; whatever we're given is certainly not equal. Some people seem to be those with five talents, while others seem to be those with one talent. It sure seems that way.
2. Now I said they "are given," however, a different expression is actually given in the parable of Jesus that I read to you today. "When a certain person departed on a journey, he called his servants and left his assets into their custody," (verse fourteen). Did you get that? Put more accurately, [his assets] were not "given," but "left into their custody." They were entrusted with [them]. Each one of our lives has been entrusted into our custody.
3. As a result, neither the person with five talents, nor the person with two talents can boast. The one with the two talents has no need to be envious of the one with the five talents; because it all belongs to the master. In fact, the two men who are found in this parable are not bragging over each other or envious. The reason is since it doesn't belong to them, but they are entrusted with it, the most important thing to do is to prove worthy of the trust with the one who entrusted it to them. For, whether it's five or two talents, he has trusted them and he has entrusted it to them.
4. How does one prove worthy of another's trust? Jesus said, "The man given custody of the five talents went out and after doing some business with it, he earned five talents more. In the same manner, the man given custody of the two talents also earned two talents more," (verses sixteen and seventeen). I think it's pretty clear. To prove worthy of one's trust means that we try to use what we've been entrusted with to please the master. With the master in mind, we try to make the best use of what we've been entrusted with.
5. We have lives that have been placed into our custody, lives with which we have been entrusted. It [could] be five talents, two talents, one talent. By the way, this unit of measure for money, "the talent," is almost never used in the normal course of life because it is a very large sum of money. Even "the one talent" which is the least that a man was entrusted with is, if we go by the money now, about sixty million yen [or six hundred thousand dollars]. It's a substantial sum of money.
6. Most of us probably feel like we've been entrusted with one talent rather than with five. But even that is quite a sum of money. That is, it means we've been entrusted with that much wealth. We're only sensitive to what we're lacking, what others have and what we don't have, but the truth is we've been given incredibly fantastic riches. We don't even know what might be the results if we were to make the best use [of our gifts]. We have been given such abundant lives, filled with all kinds of potential.
7. Both the five talent person and the two talent person have discovered what they were supposed to do. They never did compare themselves to each other. They were supposed to be a joy to [their] master. They were supposed to make the best of and use [the talents] to be pleasing to the master. That is truly what we are supposed to do in our own lives as well. We are to use, we are to make the best of [what we have]. With the master in mind. The time is coming when the master will come back. There is a time limit. We are to use and make the best of what we've been entrusted with, until the last day of life, or we could say, until the day of the end when the Lord comes again, or in more general terms, until the time limit.
8. Of course, differences in outcome and in results will appear from them. There will be some who have earned five talents out of it. There will also be some who have earned two talents out of it. The results are markedly different. But, the master doesn't care so much that there are differences in results. Jesus says it this way, "Well, after some time had passed, the master of the servants had come back, he began to settle accounts with them. First, the man who had custody of the five talents came forward and as he presented the other five talents he said, 'Master, sir, you have given into my custody five talents, and please look. [I] have earned five more talents.' The master said, 'You are a good and faithful servant. You have done well. Because you have been faithful with something small, I will let you manage over something big. Rejoice with [your] master.' Next, the man who had custody of the two talents came forward and said, 'Master, sir, you have given into my custody two talents, and please look. [I] have earned two more talents.' The master said, 'You are a good and faithful servant. You have done well. Because you have been faithful with something small, I will let you manage over something big. Rejoice with [your] master.'," (verses nineteen through twenty-three).
9. The master does not praise them saying, "You are a good servant [because] you have produced results." He says, "You are a good and faithful servant." Thus, it is the same words, whether one has earned two or five talents. How is faithfulness defined? Isn't it defined as to live by proving oneself worthy of the trust entrusted to [you]? That is, it means that with the master in mind, they made use of [what was entrusted to them] thinking of the master's joy. For the master that was decisively important.
The Person Who Did Not Prove Himself Worthy Of Trust
10. A person who doesn't get this is found in the story. The person given custody of five talents went out and did business with it. The person given custody of two talents also went out and did likewise. But the problem is [with] another person. "But, the person given custody of one talent went out, dug a hole, and hid the master's money," (verse eighteen). It's not [like] he wasted away the money. Nor did he end up losing it. Indeed, he took care so as not to lose it. However though, in Jesus' story, this servant receives a scolding by the master. He says, "You are a lazy and bad servant."
11. It doesn't look like what the servant did was so bad. Therefore, there's a strong chance you'd judge [this situation] thinking "That's a harsh thing to say." Yet, the point of the problem is clearly made. It is that this person "who was given custody of one talent" did not attempt to use it for the master's benefit. It may not look like a big deal in human eyes. But, it seems to be saying that it does look [like a big deal] in God's eyes. If we go by Jesus' words.
12. Why was he unable to use what was entrusted to him? [Why] couldn't he make the best use of [the money]? It appears that there was a deep root to the servant's problem. What was it? It is expressed by the servant's excuse. He says, "Master, sir, since I knew you are a strict person harvesting out of places you did not sow and collecting out of places you did not scatter [seed], I got scared, and I went out, and hid your talent in the ground. Please look. This is your money," (verses twenty-four and twenty-five). He says that the reason he hid the talent in the ground was he became "scared."
13. He was probably afraid of losing it. He was probably afraid that no results would come. He was probably afraid of failure. That "fear," that he spoke of, probably stemmed, in the final analysis, from his constant thinking that "The results themselves are everything." In fact, the servant believes that the master is the type who will have a problem with the results themselves, and that's why he is afraid. But, as we've already seen, the master hardly cares much about this type of thing. What matters is whether or not he thought of the master, and tried to use it for the master's benefit. [What matters] is whether he wanted to prove worthy of the trust of the one who entrusted [him with the talent]. [The servant's] heart mattered so much more than [his] achieving success.
14. To begin with, where does the words, "you are a strict person harvesting out of places you did not sow and collecting out of places you did not scatter [seed]," come from? I wonder if it comes from [his] consciously thinking, "It won't be sown in my place by [him]. There won't be any scattering in my land by [him]." Five talents worth were sown by him by that guy. Two talents were sown by him by that guy. But, with me, at most it will be [just] one talent. Yet though, only results are required [by the master]. He's a cruel master. -- These kind of thoughts were going on and off in his head, weren't they?
15. God is unfair. Life is unfair. Whenever such dissatisfaction and grumbling and the thought that "Results are everything" come together, becoming like this servant of the one talent is inevitable. I can't make the best of what I have to make the best of with. I can't use what I'm to use. No matter what, that's how it is. It shouldn't matter even though it is less than the others. It shouldn't matter even though it is one fifth of the other guy's. The point is making the best of it or not.
16. We're not owners, but managers. As managers, the main thing is that we be faithful. For the benefit of the master who entrusted it to us we are to use and make the best of things. Today we have heard this from the parable of Jesus. But, what does it mean specifically when we say to use it for the master, to use it for God? Today in the second reading I read to you [from] The Epistle Of Peter. In that text appeared the words, "Serve each other!" The text states that making the best use of things as we think of the God who entrusted them to us can be specifically defined as using them in service to one another.
17. We are to use them, not for our own benefit, but for the benefit of someone else. We are to make the best use of what we've been entrusted with for the embetterment of others, for the restoration of someone else. Even though we use and make the best use of five talents to the best of our ability, if we are absorbed only in making ourselves happy and thinking only of ourselves, then in the end, as seen from the master's perspective, it is the same as the man who buried the talent into the ground. Five talents are never entrusted to [anyone] for that type of purpose. "Because each of you are endowed with various gifts, as managers of the different blessings from God, serve one another by making the best use of those gifts!," (First Peter 4:10).